Control of Asbestos Regulations for Schools

June 21, 2016

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that has been a popular building material since the 1950’s. It is used as an insulator, has good fire protection properties and protects against corrosion.  Because asbestos is often mixed with another material, it’s hard to know if you are working with it or not.  Asbestos is found in many products used in buildings, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and sprayed coatings.

Asbestos can be found in any building built before 2000, including schools, factories, offices, houses or hospitals and causes around 5000 deaths every year in the UK according to the Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland.

Where asbestos materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed they do not present a risk. However, where the materials are in poor condition or are disturbed or damaged (such as during building work) asbestos fibres may be released into the air. If these fibres are breathed in they can cause serious lung diseases.

To prevent this exposure, information is therefore needed on whether asbestos is, or likely to be, present in buildings so that an assessment can be made about the risk it presents and appropriate measures put in place to manage those risks.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations (NI) 2012 came into force on 28 May 2012 and is the successor to similar regulations made in 2007 and 2003.

If you own, occupy, manage or have responsibilities for non-domestic premises which may contain asbestos, or if you are responsible for the non-private, i.e. common parts of domestic premises such as hall and lift areas in flats, you will either have:-

  1. A legal duty pursuant to Regulation 4 of the 2012 regulations to manage the risk from asbestos; or
  2. A legal duty to cooperate with whoever manages that risk.

The person responsible for managing the maintenance and repair of a non-domestic building, called a duty holder, must manage any asbestos in it.

A thorough inspection of the premises will usually take the form of an asbestos survey. The purpose of this survey is to provide sufficient information for a risk assessment, asbestos register and management plan to be prepared. The asbestos register must be available to those who plan or initiate maintenance and related work so that it can be consulted before the building work begins.

There are also two types of asbestos surveys namely a management survey and a refurbishment/demolition survey.

A management survey is required during the normal occupation and use of the building to ensure continued management of the asbestos-containing materials. A refurbishment/demolition survey is necessary when the building (or part of it) is to be upgraded, refurbished or demolished.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin has experience in acting for a school that was subject to an investigation and prosecution undertaken by the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. This included attending an interview under caution and assisting our client in Crown Court Proceedings.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.

Should you have queries about the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact Associate, Fergal Maguire.

E: f.maguire@cfrlaw.co.uk

T: 028 9027 1307